FACING SURREY’S HOMELESS: ‘I honestly felt suicide was my only option.’

Gregory, 49, fell in love with the Metro Vancouver area while on a holiday during Expo ’86.

“I loved the mountains and the ocean and Whistler. It was just so beautiful,” he says. “I knew I would come back one day. I’ve been a drifter all my life.”

But it wasn’t until his mother died in 1999 that he decided to make the permanent move from his home of Newfoundland and Labrador to the West Coast.

Working as a labourer in Nova Scotia for $6.25 an hour wasn’t paying the bills and a failed relationship had depleted much of his savings, so a new start seemed right.

With the construction boom in B.C. in full swing, Gregory easily found work as a labourer and eventually as a foreman for a drainage company. He was able to obtain his safety and traffic control tickets, certifications that would enhance his employment options.

Over time, Gregory developed neck and back injuries that would require surgery and recovery time. About a year ago, he settled in Whalley, as the housing costs were more affordable than the rest of the Lower Mainland.

While off work on disability, he was placed in a government program that allowed him to earn small amounts of money to supplement his $610 cheque. He took a job unloading freezer trucks in Richmond, and while he working alone inside one of the trucks, a 70-kilogram (150-lb) pallet fell on him, striking him in the head. No injury report was ever filed.

“Here I was fighting for job site safety all these years, and no one was fighting for me,” Gregory says.

Diagnosed with a severe concussion and numbness in his face and hands, he began living on a diet of painkillers. With few people sympathetic to his plight, he contemplated taking his own life.

“I honestly felt suicide was my only option,” he says. “I was behind on my rent and I had to be out in two days. I was desperate.”

That’s when he contacted Hyland House in Newton, an emergency shelter run by Options Community Services Society.

“Two support workers showed up at my apartment. They said ‘we’ve got you a room.’ I almost cried.”

With WorkSafeBC now monitoring his condition, Gregory is looking for an apartment and getting the help he needs.

“I want to work. I want back in the game.”

NO FIXED ADDRESS: Read the other stories in this Leader special report:

• The homeless: It might not be who you think

• ‘I honestly felt suicide was my only option.’

• ‘I literally have nowhere to go.’

• ‘We’re not drug freaks. We would just love a place to stay.’

• Pushed into despair – and onto the streets

• ‘Once I tried cocaine intravenously, I was done.’

• ‘Everything is a struggle when you don’t have an address.’

• The cost of caring: $7 billion in government services

• ‘ I lost my brother, my mother and my father.’

• ‘Sometimes I would even go to the airport and just pretend I was going somewhere and sleep.’

• Working the NightShift in Surrey

• The solution? In short, more housing










Just Posted

New Surrey councillor is a newer dad

Mandeep Nagra’s son Kabar was born at Surrey Memorial Hospital, four days after the civic election

Over-budget bids cause delay of four Surrey school projects

Two projects have gone back out to tender, two awaiting ‘revised budget approval’ from Ministry of Education

Fees ensure patients have access to parking at SMH, FHA says

Fraser Health Authority hasn’t heard yet from city hall about pay parking at Surrey hospital

Free hospital parking a non-starter in White Rock

City considering task force to look at parking generally – Walker

VIDEO: B.C. legislature clerk, sergeant at arms suspended for criminal investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

South Korean named Interpol president in blow to Russia

South Korea’s Kim Jong Yang was elected as Interpol’s president edging out a longtime veteran of Russia’s security services.

E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce sickens 18 people in Ontario, Quebec

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it’s working with U.S. authorities to determine the source of the romaine lettuce those who got ill were exposed to.

Trump defies calls to punish crown prince for writer’s death

The U.S. earlier sanctioned 17 Saudi officials suspected of being responsible for or complicit in the Oct. 2 killing, but members of Congress have called for harsher actions, including cancelling arms sales.

British, EU leaders to meet as Brexit deadline looms

The U.K. and the European Union agreed last week on a 585-page document sealing the terms of Britain’s departure.

Richard Oland was killed ‘in a rage,’ prosecutor tells son’s murder trial

The verdict from Oland’s 2015 murder trial was set aside on appeal in 2016. Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011.

B.C.’s HMCS Edmonton rescues two more sea turtles

Warship credited with a turtle rescue earlier in November

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Most Read